Sick weeping cherry tree

Asked March 8, 2020, 6:05 PM EDT

A couple of years ago my poor weeping cherry was trimmed entirely too short with the back half the worst. I had it trimmed again to get dead branches out of it and it and now the branches are very short. It does not seem to be growing and appears to have two types of health concerns. It gets a lot of sun. My question is, how do I know when it's too late to save it?

Crawford County Ohio

1 Response

It looks to me from your photos like your tree was planted too deeply and that would be a major factor contributing to its decline. How long has your tree been in the ground? Often times the problems associated with too deep planting do not show up for some years. You need to look at the base of the tree to see if the tree was planted too deeply or has girdling roots. These are two common problems. If your tree was well-established then one also wonders if there has been a change in drainage. Saving your tree may be very difficult if it has been in place a long time, otherwise you could consider digging it up and planting it properly.

Here is a good resource on planting depth:

An excerpt:

One simple check can indicate if an existing tree has been planted too deep. When viewing the lower trunk, it goes into the ground like a fence post goes into a hole. There is virtually no change in diameter where the trunk and soil meet. As trees age, many develop a trunk spread at ground level where the big supporting buttress roots flare away from the trunk. When in doubt, dig with your fingers close to the trunk. You are looking for large roots in the top 1-2 inches of soil. If all that is visible are small roots and no trunk flare, normal respiration cannot occur. The tree declines earlier and sometimes more dramatically that it should.

Several other Fact Sheets with information on planting: